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Truck Occupants Raise Alarm at West Springfield

West Springfield senior Amanda Neff was surprised to hear that an incident involving a fellow student and strangers in a pickup truck occurred right next to the school and she hadn't heard anything from the school.

"It's a little crazy that no one said anything about it," Neff said.

Classmate Lina Pachon felt the same way about the lack of information.

"You'd think that they'd mention something like that, for it to happen so close to the school," she said.

The incident the seniors were referring to occurred on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 3:30 p.m. According to Fairfax County Police, a 15-year-old girl was approached by two men in a white, older model, mid-sized pickup truck that was driving slowly through the neighborhood next to the school on Tuttle Road. The passenger in the truck asked the girl for directions, and after she assisted him, he wanted further clarification, police said. The girl continued walking and when she looked back, she saw that the man was taking off his seat belt. At that point, she walked toward a house with a large dog that was barking. The man told the driver that they should get out of there, and they drove away very slowly, while looking back and smiling at the girl.

The truck occupied by the two men was seen on two occasions on Tuttle Road and Garden Road. Both men were described as white. The passenger was described as having black and gray shoulder-length hair. Anyone who comes in contact with these men or their truck in the neighborhood is asked to contact the police department at 703-691-2131.

LAUREN BAILEY is a Lake Braddock alumna, Class of 2002. She heard about the incident from her mother, who is on the PTA at Lake Braddock.

"It's scary to think about in this area," she said. "You never really know who you can trust."

A similar situation happened last summer while Bailey was a lifeguard at an area pool. When she heard the 15-year-old girl got out of the situation by approaching a nearby house, Bailey thought that was a good idea.

"It's better to run away than take your chances," she said.

Supervisor Elaine McConnell's (R-Springfield) house is also on Tuttle Road, and she's been involved with security after the incident. Tuttle Road is a narrow, one-lane road with no sidewalk, and trees running along the side.

"I've seen a white truck around here, too. We're trying to put a pathway along the fence there," McConnell said, adding that she has contacted the West Springfield District Police Station.

Ron Lantz, assistant station commander at West Springfield, notified Rodney Barnes, the school resource officer at West Springfield High School, as well as the PTA.

"We've increased patrols," said Lantz. "We're basically saturating the area."

Although no actual crime was committed by the men in the truck, Lantz described the incident as "a little suspicious in nature."

Paul Regnier, school spokesperson, said the school got word of the incident on March 1 and notified the school resource officer and PTA members. In past incidents around the county, the police has requested that the school put out a letter to parents in some cases, but the school didn't in this case.

"It may have happened next to the school, but it's not necessarily school related," Regnier said. "There's no reason to believe this is a continuing danger."